Gov. Palin is considered a rising star in the Republican Party. She is the state’s first female governor, the mother of five — and at 44 is its youngest chief executive.
Born in Idaho, Palin moved to Alaska with her parents, to Charles and Sally Heath, when she was 3 months old.
She grew up in Wasilla, just outside of Anchorage, and played on the Wasilla state championship girls’ basketball team. She was crowned Miss Wasilla in 1984 and was a runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant.
Palin studied journalism and political science at the University of Idaho and graduated in 1987. She eloped with her high school boyfriend, Todd Palin, in 1988 to save money on an expensive wedding. She helped out in her husband’s family commercial fishing business and appeared occasionally as a television sportscaster.
Palin won a seat on the Wasilla City Council in 1992 as a new face and a new voice, and by opposing tax increases. Four years later she was elected mayor at 32 by knocking off a three-term incumbent. At the end of her second term, party leaders encouraged her to enter the 2002 race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Against veteran legislators with far more experience, Palin finished second by fewer than 2,000 votes, making a name for herself in statewide politics. She was elected Alaska’s youngest and first woman governor in 2006.
Sarah and Todd Palin have five children: boys Track, 19, and Trig, 4 months, and daughters Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, and Piper, 7.
Track Palin joined the Army last September and will deploy to Iraq on Sept. 11. Palin gave birth to Trig, who has Down syndrome, in April and returned to work three days later.